The Roman Catholic Church has clarified its recent announcement that priests can perform informal blessings for same-sex couples, saying it is up to individual bishops as to whether those blessings can be performed in their diocese.
In the week leading up to Christmas, the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith issued new guidelines for priests, overturning a 2021 edict that expressly banned Catholic priests from performing blessings for same-sex couples.
According to the new rules, priests may perform blessings for same-sex couples, provided they are informal, do not resemble a marriage ceremony, and are not performed as part of a church service.
However the Vatican has now clarified that it will still be up to Catholic bishops around the world as to whether even informal blessings will be allowed to take place in their dioceses.
Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect for the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, told Spanish news outlet ABC that he was aware of the backlash from African Catholic leaders over the church’s change in position.
In a separate interview with CNA he noted that in many African countries, “there is legislation that penalises with prison the mere fact of declaring oneself to be gay, imagine [what a] a blessing [would do].”
“[Therefore} it’s proper for each local bishop to make that discernment in his diocese or in any case, to give further guidance.”
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